I just did a talk at a luncheon series called Women Inspiring Women. I performed a few songs and talked about what it has taken to follow my dream. I talked about fear and breaking out of comfort zones. I tried to dispel the myths that are often woven around the idea of pursuing your passion.
It never fails. Just before I’m about to step onto a stage or up to a podium to do something like this, a little voice jumps into my head and says, “You can’t do this! You’re not THERE yet!” And briefly I think, “Oh my God, that’s right! I’m not THERE.”
Is there a THERE? And when we get there do we get to sit back on our chaise lounge with our umbrella drink and say, “Ah. Thank God. I’ve made it! This is it! I’m THERE!”
Of course not.
No matter when I step up to talk about my life or my work or what I’ve learned, I will always be in the process of growing, expanding, and shifting. There will be lots behind me – and lots in front of me. If there weren’t, I wouldn’t be stepping up to a stage, I’d be getting lowered into the ground.
The idea of THERE is yet another one of those stupid things we think we have to be before we’ll let ourselves do what we love — to teach or sing or write or create or meditate or talk in front of people or vacation or do whatever. We keep raising the bar for what THERE is.
This is a very convenient way to keep yourself stuck in your comfort zone. And admit it, that’s a very safe place to be!
The Two Ways We Use THERE Against Ourselves
1 – What you Won’t Give Yourself UNTIL you’re THERE — (Or, Withholding)
In her book, Brenda’s Wardrobe Companion, Brenda Kinsel talks about women who refuse to go shopping for clothing because they’re holding out until they’re a size 8. She encourages readers to “dress for the body you’re currently in.” She says, “I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t said, When I lose weight I’ll go shopping, but not until then. Your body wants to be happy in clothes now. And it can be – right now – exactly as it is today.”
Where do you withhold from yourself while waiting for THERE to appear? What is your THERE? Is it a size 8, 4, 2 or zero? Is it a lover, husband, girlfriend, soul mate? Is it a better singing voice, speaking voice, more wisdom, or more information?
If these ARE your THERE’S then what’s stopping you from setting a goal to reach them? Or if you know you’re just being harsh (continually waiting for the 10 pounds to come off til you let yourself go to the beach), then are there small ways you can begin to love yourself HERE, and not THERE? Can that be your dream?
2 – What you won’t let yourself TRY until you’re THERE (Or, Fear.)
My friend Lisa Sarasohn just had her first book published. It’s going to be in O Magazine next month. She’s a fantastic healer and she has been working on this book as long as I’ve known her. (We both moved to Asheville at around the same time.) The bar is rising in her life. She’s having to step up and say, “Hell yea. I know my stuff!”
Is she scared? Of course! (She told me that one night she was so scared, she listened to my song Right Outta Nowhere over and over just to get herself through her fear.) Does it look like she’s THERE from the outside? Yes. Does she feel like she’s THERE? Most likely, not always. But she’s going for it anyway.
I’ve learned that there are so many ways we make ourselves small with this idea of THERE. I love to see people go for it anyway. The first time I was asked to speak at a conference, I was terrified. I kept thinking, “Shouldn’t I be bigger or shouldn’t I be Oprah before I do things like this?”
You know the answer, don’t you?
(I got to see Oprah speak in Raleigh, NC, and one of the first things she said to the audience is “I’m no different than you. I am a woman in process.” And that’s the key. We are each in process.)
This isn’t to say that if The Millionaire’s Club wanted me to speak at their annual meeting all about how to make a million dollars in the music business that I’d say yes and lie my way through the talk. I’m not encouraging fraud. (Though as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I did just win a million dollars.)
Most of us are guilty in some way of shrinking just enough so that we deny our power and our abilities because we’re not THERE yet.
What is THERE, Anyway?
When I first started playing guitar, my whole entire dream was “just to be able to play a few songs in my room or for other people.” Then when I learned a few songs, my dream was “just to play in some bars.” I wanted to be that cool. And then I had a schedule full of playing in bars. Then I wanted to play in coffeehouses or even listening rooms. When that happened, I wanted to do opening acts, and on and on.
At any given time there was a lot I had learned, a lot of wisdom I had gained, and a lot I had yet to learn.
But THERE never happened.
What I’ve come to realize is this: a lot of us want THERE to be somewhere where WE are NOT. We want to leave ourselves (and all our worries and fears and pettiness) behind and be free from our stuff. (When I wanted to play in bars, I wanted to be a little more like Janis Joplin and I was so disappointed when she didn’t appear and I remained myself!)
But I finally got it. And here’s a big chunk o’ wisdom I give to you free of charge.
No matter where you end up, or what dreams come true for you, you never leave you behind. You always bring you with you. So, of course it feels like you never get THERE. Cuz you’re still here!
This doesn’t mean you don’t set goals or reach for things or set out in the direction of your dreams. It just means that it doesn’t end anywhere. The other side of the “you always bring you with you” coin is this: that who you are shifts and transforms and grows. That is the real magic. And that is the whole entire point of doing anything.
Then, as what you know about gets bigger and expands, you approach your goals and dreams with all of that knowing and context in mind. Your dreams become richer and more suited to you. (I never liked bars anyway! And hello? I’m SO not Janis Joplin!) You start to value all the things you’ve discovered about yourself and say no to things that don’t work. You recognize fear as a teacher. When your dreams are in alignment with this great thing that you are, then they manifest much more easily. THERE slips away and becomes HERE. And here gets to be pretty cool.
So, begin where you are. You’re already there.